Dutch elm disease comes early to Regina

Dutch elm disease has returned to Regina — where virtually every tree was planted by hand — and that has officials worried.

Dutch elm disease has returned to Regina — where virtually every tree was planted by hand — and that has officials worried.

On Thursday, the City of Regina took down a large American elm in the tree-filled Lakeview neighbourhood after it was found infected with the disease.

The loss of the tree, estimated to be more than 80 years old, is a concern because it came earlier in the summer season than expected, according to Wade Morrow, the city's pest control manager.

The city is trying to keep Dutch elm disease in check because Regina's urban forest consists mostly of American elms.

The disease is caused by a fungus carried from tree to tree by elm bark beetles. The condition attacks the circulatory system of the tree, depriving it of nutrients.

There's no cure for Dutch elm disease, so any time an infected tree is found, it has to be cut down to prevent the spread of the infection. Last year, the city cut down 11 infected trees.

"Knowing that we've had extremely dry conditions, it's really not a good sign for the year," Morrow said.

Up the street from where the tree came down, Christopher Adams said the neighbours dread losing "an old friend."

"The trees are a little bit like family," he said. "The loss of even a single one is a little bit like losing  a person in the family.  In fact, one was hit by lightning last year and people even brought flowers out for the tree itself."

The city says one thing that people can do to help is to water trees. Removing tree bands, the kind used to trap cankerworm moths, is also a good idea now that cankerworms are no longer eating leaves, the city says.